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Japanese photographer inri was just 27 when she saw RongRong’s photographs for the first time. As she wandered between the stalls of a 1999 Tokyo art fair, a series on traditional Chinese wedding dresses caught her eye. One image, with a man and a woman completely hidden in the folds of yellow silk robes, reminded her of something. She didn’t speak Chinese, and instead grabbed a pen and paper to scrawl the two Japanese kanji 黄河 (yellow river) — in reference to a river crossed after death according to Buddhist mythology.

The two art photographers were soon married, a relationship that not only nurtured a family with three children, but also brought about the establishment of Beijing’s Three Shadows Photography Art Centre, as well as the genesis of Caochangdi PhotoSpring, China’s only grassroots art photography festival, which kicks off its fourth year on April 21.

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